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Identity Theft & Credit Monitoring
Identity theft is one of the most egregious non-violent crimes that can be committed against a person. This occurs when someone decides to take your personal information without your given permission or knowledge. In reality, this crime is more than a minor inconvenience. It is an all-out assault on your finances and credit history and it can take a considerable of time to restore both if you’re not careful. These unscrupulous thieves can deflate your bank account, inflate charges on your credit cards, file tax returns in your name and even go as far as giving your name, address and other false information during their arrest. Sadly, even children are not safe from this despicable act, so it may be wise to every now and then check to see if your child has a credit report in their name. Having a the best protection plan in place is a must if you want to help prevent your identity from falling into the wrong hands.Fortunately, there are a several things you can do to when considering your which service to use. Educating yourself on the signs of a possible or attempted theft is vital these days. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) and The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) provides protection if your ATM, credit or debit cards are lost or stolen. Aside from specific credit protection companies, many banks also offer these same types of services. Be mindful to never give out your Social Security number to strangers and/or organizations unless you are positively certain of their authenticity. If you do become a victim, following the proper steps to get your life back on track is of the utmost importance.
Ways People Can Protect Against Identity Theft
As far as identity theft is concerned, it takes place whe another person obtains someone else’s personal information, like your Social Security number or credit card data to commit fraud as well as other crimes. The authorities estimate that there are millions of people from different parts of the world who are becoming victims of identity theft every year.
In response to the concerns regarding identity theft, there are numerous financial institutions and companies that have introduced products and services that can help in monitoring your credit, reimburse you for the funds or wages you lost and protect your identity. There are some employers that also offer their identity theft insurance that can help in reducing the amount of money and time spent in resolving the crime so it is best that you check with the benefits specialist of your company about your eligibility.
But as an individual, there are many things that you can do to safeguard yourself from cases of identity theft. Some of these ways include the following:
Guard Your Online Information
Today, many people do most of their banking and shopping online. With all the passwords and account numbers that float around, it is easy that someone will nab your personal information and use it to go on a shopping spree without your knowledge.
- Clear your passwords and logins. It is particularly important if you are using a public computer. Change your passwords and logins every month.
- Pay your online purchases using your credit card that has better guarantees under the federal law as compared to online payment services or using your debit card.
- Stay alert for phishing, a kind of trick wherein pop ups or spam mimic legitimate businesses and banks to obtain your personal information that they can use to gain access to your accounts. See to it that you are on a familiar website that has security controls before you enter your personal data.
Monitor Credit Card and Bank Statements
Have a regular checking of all your accounts so that you know if something goes awry. Purchases that you did not make must be obvious, such as the purchase of a branded high end bag that you never made yourself.
Mailing Address Verification
Verify your mailing address with financial institutions and the post office. The identity bandits can fill out forms on change of address so that the delinquent credit notices will stay off your paper billing radar.
Credit Report Monitoring
By law, you are entitled to a free credit report annually from any of the three primary bureaus. Request for one every quarter and change bureaus every time you do so. You can also order this report directly through every agency.
Shred the Sensitive Documents
You may also want to buy yourself a shredder that you can use for regularly shredding any outdated bank statement, bills, credit card applications or anything that contains your personal information before you toss it to recycling or the trash bin. Most of the time, junk bin usually contains some personal details.
Will it make sense if you pay for identity theft protection if you have taken all the necessary precautions? Well, it will depend on your personal spending habits as well as your overall level of care and caution. You might also choose to invest in a reliable identity theft protection service when you:
- Conduct lots of online shopping or banking;
- Lack the time to monitor your personal information on your own;
- Sickened by the thought of investing money and time for recovery from identity theft.
Identity theft can be avoided if you will be vigilant enough as far as your finances and personal information as concerned. Once you have detected any sign of fraudulent activity, make sure that you notify the financial institution where this fraudulent activity has taken place first so that your account will be safeguarded right away. Depending on the particular situation, you will need to file a complaint with the concerned authority as well as the local police department. See to it that you also investigate the rest of your accounts. Being proactive instead of reactive is important to protect yourself from the fraudulent activities of people who are only after your money.
1 Based on projections from a 2013 Identity Fraud Report from Javelin Strategy & Research. http://www.identitytheftassistance.org/pageview.php?cateid=47
Credit scores are provided by CreditXpert based on data from the credit reporting bureaus.
**Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.